Do good things come to those who wait?

Ask any successful person and they’ll tell you that achieving any goal is not something that should be rushed. Yes, they follow their gut instinct, but they also take time to understand the process and nurture it. As a reward of their persistence and dedication, they achieve their goals.

Unfortunately, in today’s society we want instant satisfaction. We seek the quick fix approach. The pill that will cure everything. But we forget, we are creatures of nature and nature doesn’t work that way.

If, for example, you plant a seed, water it, leave it for some time, then at the right time — when all the right elements are in place – the seed turns into a flower. But this only happens when the conditions are right and there was work to be done before those elements came into play.

The seed had to be planted, it had to be nurtured, it needed the time to grow and spring roots under the soil. At the right time, it began to rise above the surface into exactly what it was meant to be.

If you want to achieve success, or any worthwhile goal in life, you have to practise patience.

One of the most famous studies in the art of patience was conducted in the 1960’s by Stanford professor Walter Mischel and his team. It became known as The Marshmallow Experiment. But it wasn’t the treat that made it famous: the interesting part came years later.

Mischel and his team tested hundreds of children — most of them around the ages of 4 and 5 years old. Each child was taken to a private room and one marshmallow was placed in front of them. The researcher told them that he was going to leave the room, and if they could wait 15 minutes until the researcher returned without eating the marshmallow, they would be rewarded with a second one.

So the choice was simple: one treat right now or two treats later.

While for some of the children the temptation became too much and they ate the marshmallow before the researcher returned, a few did manage to wait the entire time.

Though the interesting part about this study came years later!

The researchers followed each child for more than 40 years, and they found that the children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life measures.

What this study and others have highlighted is that if you want to succeed at anything, the ability to be patient can have a major influence. The good news is that patience is something you can train yourself to have.

So, how do we practise the art of patience? Gratitude!

In a landmark study, a team of researchers from Northeastern University, the University of California, Riverside, and Harvard Kennedy School demonstrated that feelings of gratitude automatically reduced financial impatience.

Participants chose between receiving $54 now or $80 in 30 days. They found that the degree of patience exhibited was directly related to the amount of gratitude any individual felt.

Three ways you can practise gratitude that I highly recommend are:

Morning Meditation

Upon waking, take 10 minutes to sit with your eyes closed and create a feeling of excitement about aspects of the day to come. 

Show Your Gratitude

Seek out the positive aspects of people’s natures and share it with them. Likewise, carry out actions that show your appreciation at every opportunity.

Journal

Take 5 minutes at the end of each day to write down 3 things that you are grateful for from your day in a gratitude journal.

When you take the time to appreciate what life offers you on a daily basis, being patient when it comes to achieving your goals becomes a lot easier.

References: